Whitsome hits the broadband fast lane at last

Ian Jarvie

Ian Jarvie

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WHITSOME residents have successfully taken matters into their own hands and their new wireless broadband service is due to go live this weekend.

When four local businessmen (Neil Adcock, Ian Jarvie, James Lamb, and John Smithson) formed their own company, Whitsome Enterprises Limited, they managed to succeed where all the major internet suppliers had either failed or shown no interest whatsoever. They successfully bid for Leader programme funding (EU money for projects in rural areas), found a company to carry out the work, and come Saturday they will have a new wireless link from the existing network.

“Businesses and residents in Whitsome have become accustomed to letting out a slightly cynical sigh whenever they see or hear an advertisement from internet suppliers promoting their latest wonderful broadband offers,” explained a member of Whitsome Enterprises Limited.

“Despite all the fine words about umpteen megabytes per second, the upper limit in and around Whitsome has remained at a maximum of half a megabyte per second, well below the speeds promised by the major providers.

“No amount of complaining or lobbying has yielded any commitment by these suppliers to bring about the necessary improvement – in particular an upgrade of the local telephone exchange.

“Whitsome remains one of the very few areas in Scotland without a decent Broadband speed.”

“In 2011, local residents decided that enough was enough and took on the task of improving their service despite the apparent lack of interest on the part of their telephone service providers.”

Whitsome Enterprise’s business plan greatly impressed the Scottish Borders LEADER Local Action Group who supported a bid to the Scottish Government’s Broadband Fund and, eventually, an award of £100,000 was made under the LEADER programme.

The project went out to tender, and a consortium led by Cybermoor, from Alston, Cumbria that specialises in wireless-based, broadband technology, was chosen to deliver the service.

“The new service will offer significantly better speeds than what people in this area are used to,” said James Lamb of Whitsome Enterprises. “There are a range of speeds available, with the very slowest being four times faster than the maximum Whitsome subscribers can currently get.”

Whitsome’s new broadband service will ‘go live’ with the switch-on taking place at the village’s annual fair on the afternoon of Saturday, June 2. And everyone who signs up will receive a visit from an engineer to fix a small antenna and wireless router.

Installation costs are covered by the LEADER grant, so businesses and residents signing up will have no installation fee to pay, plus they will enjoy a free three month trial period before monthly payments (from £15 to £40 depending on the level of service) begin.